Urban Agency

Bull Island


URBAN AGENCY together with Henchion+Reuter, Transsolar, Hosper, Haley Sharpe and with Planning Partnership have developed a new masterplan and initial design for a Visitor Discovery Centre on North Bull Island, a 400 Ha internationally important conservation area as recognised by multiple national and international environmental designations   The Masterplan Bull Island has the most designations of any site in the country, as a National Bird Sanctuary, a biosphere reserve, a National Nature Reserve, a Special Protection Area under the EU Birds Directive and a Special Area of Conservation under the EU Habitats Directive, while also being the subject of a Special Amenity Area Order. The proximity of the site to a large urban centre creates significant pressures on its ecology, as a result an ‘ecology axis’ running from Raheny and St. Anne’s Park across the causeway and reaching to the sea and an ‘axis of recreational activity’ centred on the North Bull wall, with the areas in between reserved and conserved for the protection of the flora and fauna particular to this special landscape. The proposal to locate the Discovery Centre at this location will facilitate the management infrastructure for the wetlands and the island and will provide a new identity for the Biosphere as a whole.The masterplan reviews the physical condition of the causeway access with a number of design intervention recommendations for the surface of the causeway, providing for parking as well and the reductions of vehicular access deeper onto the island.   The Discovery Centre Due to the nature of the site and the delicate context of flora and fauna, the building must have a minimum footprint. By increasing the height of the building, we reduce the footprint of the building and this mitigate direct impact on the landscape while providing opportunity for as unique landmark and views from within and in reference to the Martello towers along Dublin coast. The concept of the Discovery Centre takes advantage fully of the range of views of the landscape and the geography beyond so visitors have diverse experiences of Bull Island. Views at entry level point on the ground floor are dominated by the mudflats, the tidal plain of the causeway road and the dunes of the neighbouring golf courses. On the first floor, views emerge on the wider golf course, with its manicured lawns, grass landscape, and the wetlands on either side of the causeway road. On the second floor at 8m high, views start to see the Irish Sea and water sport activities of kite surfers and swimmers. On the opposite side, Dublin harbour and port become visible as well as Clontarf. On the third level at 12m high, vast views as far as Howth Head and Dun Laoghaire start to emerge as well as panoramic views to St Anne’s Park. On the roof top at 16m high, the entire Dublin Bay is visible in one giant 360 degree panorama, with the discovery centre at its centre. The visitors can intertwine between indoor and outdoor vertically throughout the building via a series of cascading viewing decks and winter gardens located at various heights. Visitors, perched like birds on a tree, in and on the new Discovery Centre will experience and enjoy fully nature and its habitat.

Project: Bull Island
Size: 400 ha Masterplan, 2,500 m² Discovery Centre
Location: Dublin, Ireland
Budget: €13 Million
Client: Dublin City Council
Team: URBAN AGENCY, Henchion + Reuter, Transsolar, Hosper, Haley Sharpe, Planning Partnership
Type: Commission
Status: In Progress

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